This Writer in a Crowd

The hubby and I just returned from a long road trip, 7652 kilometers to be exact. I’m as tired as if I walked the whole way. My bed feels like heaven. I’ve been home for three days and my brain is still in a fugue. (Oh, I seriously like the word fugue.) The best part is that I’m back on the ranch where there aren’t any people.

You may not know this Dear Reader, but I’m not much of a people person. When I’m around crowds, I have to make a concerted effort not to chew off a leg to get out of the small-talk trap. Usually when I’m standing around eating Cheetos and failing to look like I belong, I’m doing math in my head. Trying to figure out how long I have to wait before I can tunnel out, like in the Great Escape, leaving behind a trail of glowing orange crumbs.

Me: I’ve consumed four pounds of fake, greasy, radioactive cancer causing edible oil products, bared my teeth in what I hope will pass for a smile, said hi to three people and a stuffed dog, stared at a plastic petunia for seven minutes, plus I’ve shuffled my feet in the only line-dance pattern I know for at least four additional minutes, that must equal enough time where I can legitimately skulk away into a quiet corner, pull out my book and try to look like I’m working on the squirrel homelessness problem. Now how did my, Pondering Deep Philosophical Thoughts Please Do Not Disturb, pose look? Oh no! I think someone recognized me. Where’s the bathroom? 

Lucky for me, the hubby is our equivalent of Julie the Cruise Director. He can move around groups of people with ease. Look like he is smiling and laughing instead of contemplating ripping out throats. And he doesn’t seem to be overcome with giant waves of exhaustion while trying to maintain small-talk. Nor does he blurt out inappropriate conversational faux pas.

Me: You and your husband look like you’re madly in love. Oh, he’s the plumber.

Me: That’s an interesting dog. What breed is it? Your daughter, Trixie? Her tail is what fooled me.

Me: Did you know that the Tunga Flea will lay eggs inside the human body?

Did I mention that I’m happy to be home? Now I can be my usual scintillating social butterfly self, as long as it doesn’t involve, you know, real live human people.

Telemarketers…I guess they still have those things.

Telemarketer: Hello, can I speak with Gabraveda, please?

Me: There’s no one of that name here.

Telemarketer: Are you the lady of the house?

Me: Some people might call me a lady, some may not.

Telemarketer: Um…does that mean you’re the lady of the house?

Me: Sure, why not. What do you want?

Telemarketer: It looks like your household has recently purchased a breast pump…

Me: You have the wrong number.

Telemarketer: …from Ameda…

Me: Listen, I can promise you that no one in this house has purchased a breast pump, recently, or in the distant passages of time.

Telemarketer: But, Mrs…my records indicate…

Me: Hang on. Hubby? Have you recently purchased a breast pump?

Hubby: What’s a breast pump? (He wiggles his eyebrows.) It sounds interesting.

Me: It’s this suction thing a woman sticks onto her nipples and milks herself so she can sometimes sleep more than fifteen seconds at a stretch.

Hubby: Seriously? (Makes a, EWWWW face, then puts his hands protectively over his nipples.) That doesn’t sound even a little bit interesting.

Me: I have taken an extensive survey of all household humans and can without a doubt tell you that no one here has ever purchased a breast pump. Recently or otherwise.

Telemarketer: I see. Would you be interested in information about a Bugaboo Chameleon Canvas baby carrier?

Me: Can it carry a lot of wood?

Telemarketer: Um…it’s for babies.

Me: Babies who can pack wood?

Telemarketer:

Me: I’d also be open to babies who can clean chicken coops. Or better yet, a baby that can help me with the hard chapter I’m stuck on. Someone I can bounce ideas off who won’t shit their pants or barf Pablum onto my laptop.

Telemarketer: Is there someone else there I can speak with?

Me: Sure, would you like to speak to the Mr. of the house?

Telemarketer: Does he need a baby carrier?

Me: Only if it’ll help him change tires.

Telemarketer: Well, thank you for your time, Mrs.

Me: No problem. Call back when you’ve invented something that can make babies really good copy editors. Or even if your company has invented a telemarketing machine that doesn’t refer to the lady of the house as Mrs.

How to get rid of five hundred unwanted pounds

We live deep in the dark boreal forests of the Canadian wilderness. We are surrounded by lions and tigers and bears, oh my. Or at least, raccoons, porcupines, and muskrats. It requires vast effort on our part to make it back to civilization, there are canoes, portages, and the ability to avoid hostiles involved in the process. Also, there are potholes.

The worst part of all, our internet blows chunks. It is a hard, arduous life. Almost like being a pioneer. We have no TV, no cable, no satellite dish and can’t even stream Netflix. When I tell this to people they often shake their heads and cluck as they back away slowly, just in case it’s catching. So our entertainment is extremely limited, reading books, painting, shooting things (the hubby) writing stories (me), reading posts by Jim Wright at Stone Kettle Station (he rocks…he really does…you have to go check him out at http://www.stonekettle.com/, I recommend starting with his flying car post from years ago.) Also reading Jenny Lawson at the Bloggess. If you haven’t peed your pants since your last potty training session, I suggest you go read her. She’s funnier than hell, despite the fact that she’s a Texan.

Today, just for shits and giggles, and before breakfast, we sold our old furnace. Yay, us. It adds a few bucks toward our new high-efficiency furnace and it gets rid of a half-ton of scrap iron, tin, and motors. The morning is gorgeous. I’m not kidding, go look up the definition in the dictionary and there is a picture of today in there. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, the chickens are clucking and the guineas are assholes.

Several hands are required to load said furnace into the back of the truck. No problem. I’m there like white on rice. The hubby mentions something about black flies. Now, I’m a pioneer woman and fully aware of the ramifications. So, I put on my black-fly regalia: long pants, long-sleeved shirt, hat, gloves and bug-screen shield. I stroll up, looking like the biggest dweeb on the planet and the ‘extra hands’ who are there to help us move the monstrosity, give me a look. The look says something like this, (mind you, I’m paraphrasing here) “Holy cow! I can’t believe that anyone would leave their house looking like an escapee from a mental asylum. Look at her! It’s a thousand degrees out here and sunny, and she’s covered head to toe. Seriously, someone should call someone to do something about her. And, what’s that smell? Did she bathe in bug dope?”

I saunter over in my head-to-toe Canadian version of a burqa and greet all the sardonic glances with a nod and a smile. “Howdy, folks,” I say. (Yes, we speak like Texans in the backwoods of Canada.) “Nice mornin’, ain’t it.” They chuckle behind their hands and back away, just a bit.

Approximately five seconds later, I am covered, five centimeters deep, in black bodies. I stand there, unconcernedly and watch. It’s interesting to see grown men and women leap about, flap their arms, whack at faces and eat large quantities of insects. Hey guys, who looks like an escapee now? It’s also interesting to see who runs to get protection first. (Hint, they don’t have penises.) About five minutes later I hear some serious expletives come from the hubby’s mouth as he tries to see through a blanket of bugs. His face has bloody streaks running down it and he has a wild, trapped animal appearance. “You want I should get you a bug net?” I ask.

“Yes, please!!!!!!” Note, there was a please in there. Things must be desperate.

The truck drives off, loaded to the nines, and we head for the house and breakfast.

Hubby: Holy snapping arseholes, Hannah! (Normally that is my favourite saying, but I understand why he’s conscripted it.) I couldn’t believe the fucking bugs out there.

Me: Really?

Hubby: My gawd, but they were bad!!!!

Me:

Hubby: Shuddup.

And that, ladies and gentleman, is how you get rid of five hundred extra pounds and about a liter of blood before breakfast.

Kids and Mothers

The other day my kid said something that warmed the black, icy cockles of my heart. And really, who couldn’t use more heated heart cockles?

She said, “Yup, that’s us, we put the ass into class.”

I was so proud. What mother wouldn’t be? Well, perhaps mine. In fact, there’s a pretty good chance when those words were leaving her granddaughter’s lips, Mom’s ashes began to spin so fast that if anyone was watching, they’d have thought…tornado?

I can see it now.

“What the hell? How in the world did a tornado form on the side of a mountain?”

“That’s just Gab’s mom.”

“Oh, that makes sense.”

The hubby says that you can take the girl out of the trailer, but you can’t take the trailer out of the girl. It’s a good thing too. Otherwise my kid may have had too much influence from her grandmother. Wash your hands. Sit up straight. Use a fork. Act like a lady. Don’t let the dog lick your ear.

That there is some messed up stuff.

You know what else is messed up? The whole getting presentable thing. Back in my day, all that was required to get ready to go out on the town was a clean pair of jeans and new shoelaces for your hiking boots. Now, holy crap on a cracker, there is some weird assed shit the kids are doing. For example, my daughter has long, straight, blonde hair. First, she blow dries it, for approximately seventy-two hours…upside down. Then she takes this boogity-clamp thing, which heats up to approximately the sun, and straightens her hair. Did I mention that she has straight hair? Then she takes another implement that looks like a medieval torture device, twists her hair and locks it in, then she immediately undoes it and shakes it out. Apparently you have to do this four thousand times before there is even a slim possibility of it turning out right. (To me, it looks exactly the same every…single…time.)

Once the hair is complete, the outfit has to be assembled. This consists of taking every single thing out of your closet, including old Halloween costumes and your wedding dress, then trying it all on…in multiple combinations. This step can take anywhere from seven to seven thousand hours. And for some reason, you must tilt your head to the side while you pirouette in front of a full length mirror. Checking out your hind quarters way more than the front. Personally, I don’t care what my ass looks like, I can’t see it.

Then there is the makeup. Apparently, it has to be applied in such a way that it looks like you aren’t wearing any. (For those of you who are wondering, I have that look down pat. And it requires zero actual makeup.)

Hubby: Good gawd! Can we just go already!!!

Me: ZZZzzzzzz

Daughter: I think I like that other shirt better, it goes with these pants. Mom, your dog is licking my ear.

I blame my mom. I’m sure this might come as a surprise to many people, but you see, I was never what you would call, feminine. My poor mother, she really did give it the good ole college try. She used to pick out the frilliest, puffiest, most floatiest ensembles, then hold them high while advancing toward me in a menacing way. “Look—look honey,” she would say. “Isn’t it pretty? Everyone’s wearing one.”

“What the hell is it?”

“You don’t know what this is? Oh, it’s just a casual mini with a sheath underlay, Peter Pan collar and flounce sleeves. You’ll look stunning in it.”

“More like stunned. I’m not putting that on. MOM…step away from the change room.!”

This scenario occurred in many, many different variations through the years.

“What about a…”

“Nope.”

So you can imagine my surprise when I ended up with a kid who would not only try these outfits on, but like them. And buy them.

And sometimes I can see a familiar menacing look on her face.

“Mom, you’d look really good in a high-waisted, chemise, cummerbund with a kilt.”

“No. Don’t you have your own house now?”

“Look! That woman has a Birken Bag.”

“What the hell…never mind…I don’t want to know.”

Magic Fingers

Anyone who knows me (that’s approximately four people) knows that I used to be a fidgeter. I say used to be, because although I still on occasion twitch around a bit, I am WAY better than I was in the olden days. So the other day when the leg fell off the kitchen chair I’ve been using when I write, I was a tad bit surprised.

Hubby: Well if you wouldn’t hop around like you were jacked up on caffeine and meth, then this wouldn’t happen.

Me: Pardon? I do NOT hop around. I sit still. Demure. Almost ladylike to a fault.

Hubby:

Me: What? I do. I’ve given up my fidgety ways.

Hubby:

Me: Are you seriously trying to tell me that you think I still fidget?

Hubby: Let’s start by saying that legs don’t normally just fall off chairs. Then I want you to take a look at these wear marks on the wood. See, that don’t happen from no ladylike demure kinda shit. And lastly, we’ve never purchased furniture from Magic Fingers Inc., yet anytime you plant your ass on anything, the entire fucking house vibrates.

Me: I believe you’re exaggerating.

Hubby: Look, look at this leg! It looks like it’s been chewed on by muskrats.

Okay, so I can’t explain the whole, leg falling off the chair thing, and it does appear that the wood has a bit of wear, it’s probably a factory defect. But for sure I can say that the hubby is wrong. To begin with, he’s a guy, and as we are all aware, guys are usually wrong. And second, he’s always blaming me for everything. Unjustly, I might add. It’s my fault that his chainsaw is broken. It’s my fault that the battery on his impact is buggered. It’s my fault that the garage door fell onto the top of his truck and left a huge ding and a scratch. (Well, he might be onto something with that last one.)

The other day he came into the house raving that I had broken his buzzflitter. “What’s a buzzflitter,” I asked.

He huffed air from his nose like he was Smaug and had discovered that his mountain had a dwarf infestation. “It’s the tool I need to fix the barn-weevil on the tractor’s axel grinder,” he bellowed.

“Those words don’t even make sense. Why does the tractor’s axel grinder need a barn-weevil?”

Sometimes it’s amusing when he gets all red in the face and stomps his feet like a three year old. Although now that I think about it, I wonder if that has any correlation to the doctor putting a twenty-four hour blood pressure monitor on him?

The Achilles of Concerts

I’m not big into technology, mainly because I live in the bush and unless it can help split and stack wood, I don’t have a huge need for it. But, I am starting to get several different types of electronics, like a cell phone for one. Although, typically I keep it in my purse and turned off. But as is the case with these things, I have been edging into the twenty first century without planning it. For example, the other day my Fitbit informed me that I had walked 10.5 kilometers while mowing my lawn. I pushed that mower up and down banks, side stepped steep hills, and was chewed on by those little bastard black-flies that make this time of the year a living hell. To top it off, every step felt as if someone was stabbing the back of my heel with a burning knife. It was my Achilles tendon’s way of saying, “Fuck you’re stupid.” It took two long agonizing hours.

The only reason I mention the above is because today I went to a school concert, it lasted two hours. Two grueling, excruciating, torturous hours. The second I sat down on the most uncomfortable chair on the planet, old forgotten memories resurfaced. Oh yes, the butt remembers! But by then, it was too late. Too late to recognize that I’d sooner volunteer to cut 20.5 kilometers of grass on the side of a mountain than to sit through an elementary school concert, ever again. Fading affect bias is a real bitch.

It not that I don’t like children, it’s just that I don’t like to be around them. I don’t want to be touched by their sticky little selves, see their jam stained little faces, listen to their banshee screeching little singing, or spend the next two weeks recovering from whatever illness the little plague-infested miscreants have infected me with. Because they will infect you, no matter how much antiseptic lotion you bathe in. Now don’t get me wrong, I like, even love, the scabby-kneed, snotty-nosed short people who happen to be directly related to me, but the others...oy vey.

So there I was, squirming on a wooden plank designed by a sadist. My back ached, haunted by distant memories. My butt see-sawed between numbness and torment.  And my brain, without conscious effort on my part, began to survey the room, planning my escape. Then the singing started. Here’s a question, why do music teachers hate everyone? Are they driven to homicidal thoughts while sitting in their classrooms, day after day, listening to out-of-tune instruments being played as if they were being thrown against a wall? Or did they have to sign a pledge in order to graduate from Teacher School? I solemnly promise to use only the following books: Songs Written by Muskrats, Horrifying Songs Made Even More Ghastly by Children in Groups and Songs That Cause Brain Hemorrhaging.

For a while, I took my queues from the hubby. He seemed to know when to smile, when to say, “aw, how cute,” and when to clap. It’s like there’s this whole secret language I know nothing about. Eventually, I began to resent him for it and started to feel stabby.  On top of this, I hadn’t eaten breakfast. Good thing I didn’t have access to the nuclear codes.

Then I was saved, in the most unbelievable fashion ever! I pulled my phone out of my purse and turned it on to take a picture (cause that’s what the hubby was doing) and lo and behold, I had a message.

Lisa saved me. I love you, Lisa. Suddenly, I had me and ally. Someone to share the misery with. I didn’t even have to tell her about the chair from hell, she already knew. Then she sent me a picture of Arnold Schwarzenegger doing a voice over of Blue Oyster Cult’s, Burnin for You, and all was right with the world. I’m beginning to understand the world’s obsession with technology, and am beginning to grasp its usefulness, even without a cord of wood in the vicinity.

This is my brain on sleep

My eyes will no longer stay open more than half mast. I am seriously bagged. So much so that it’s an effort to put my pajamas on and crawl into bed. The hubby has been sleeping for hours, he’s been in the soft-snore zone for a few hours.

It’s warm, dark and sleepy time should happen in, five, four, three, two and one…

My Brain: Hey, what cha doing?

Me: Going off to night-night land.

My Brain: Remember that story you were working on the other day? It was like, five months ago. You were so excited, you had the whole thing plotted out in your head and then forgot to write down the outline?

Me: Yes…?

My Brain: Well I just remembered it. So fucking exciting!! There’s that thing, and the girl, in the place, with the bushel of wheat. You remember?

Me: I do now.

My Brain: You should really get up and write it down.

Me: Now? Seriously? I can’t even keep my eyes open. And I think I put my pajama bottoms on backwards. You want I should get up now?

My Brain: Well, sure. If you don’t, you know you’re not going to like yourself in the morning.

Me: Can’t you just retain that information? It’s only eight hours. How hard could it be?

My Brain: Fuck no. I have other shit to think about. Like, did you remember to take the laundry out of the dryer? Um, no. And you know it’s towels. You know they’re going to smell moldy if you don’t get up now and pull them out.

Me: Oh crap. Why didn’t you mention this six hours ago?

My Brain: Hey, I have more important things to do. Like what number was that poisonous red dye they used to put into candy and shit. And where did I leave the good shovel? And did I just feel a wood tick crawling up my leg?

Me: I have a wood tick crawling up my leg?

My Brain: Maybe.

Me: (feeling around my skin for the little fucking menace) There’s nothing there.

My Brain: Whatever. Now I’m way too worried about my steps. I can’t remember if I plugged my Fitbit in. Hmmm, I should re-read The Martian. Wait, I think I’m hungry…hang on. Nope, just need a drink of water. Fuck, now I have to pee.

Dinosaur Porn! It doesn’t get better than this.

Sqeeeeeeeee! That is how excited I am about discovering Dinosaur erotica.  Never in a million years would I have thought that such a thing exists. Finding that online was like a treasure trove of giving. There are also books on refrigerator erotica, grocery store erotica, Amish erotica and sentient vegetable erotica. Really and truly, it’s like a cornucopia of never before considered possibilities.

Who writes it? And why? Do they do it for pay? Is there a specific readership for each genre? Or can you call them individual genres? Like sub-genres within the porn world. I want to download one, a dinosaur one, just to see what’s in it, but then I don’t for three reasons.

  1. I’m way too cheap.
  2. I don’t want to open my computer for the next six months and see, Because you downloaded A Billionaire Dinosaur Forced Me Gay, we thought you would enjoy….
  3. I don’t want to.

Me: Oh MY god! There’s dinosaur porn on the internet.

Hubby:

Me: Listen to this title, Mating With the Raptor.

Hubby: I don’t even want to ask.

Me: It’s dinosaurs, having sex with people. And vegetables.

Hubby: Dinosaurs having sex with vegetables?

Me: No, vegetables having sex with people.

Hubby:

Me: And porn about sex in a grocery store.

Hubby: With vegetables?

Me: God, I never even thought about that. I was just thinking about people in the freezer aisle when suddenly their clothes fall off they would have to get close together to keep warm to survive. You know what happens to people when they don’t have any clothes on in the freezer aisle don’t you?

Hubby: They get cold.

Me: No, hard nipples. According to Lisa, hard nipples always lead to grocery store sex.

Hubby: With dinosaurs?

Me: Maybe.

Hubby:

Me:

Hubby: Okayyyyy. So I have a question. What the ever loving fuck? Seriously, why are you so excited about this? Gay dinosaur vegetable porn?  Are you trying to tell me something?

Me: I could totally write something like this. And my friend Lisa said if I sold a million copies, I’d be rich. Well, she actually said if she sold a million copies then she’d be rich, but whatever. She can write about Amish erotica or bicycle erotica.

Hubby: You? Write erotica? You?

Me: Yes. Me.

Hubby: You get squeamish writing a kissing scene. Didn’t I see you tearing your hair out when you were trying to write a two-page scene where no one loses their clothes?

Me: Yeah, but that’s my real writing. This would be something I’d do under a pseudonym.

Hubby: What the fuck’s a pseudonym?

Me: A pen name. Like a fake name that you use when you don’t want your real name associated with a work.

Hubby: Why don’t you just say a fake name? How come you always have to drop words like sued-do whatevers on me? And who’s Lisa?

Me: She’s my new best friend on the internet. We’re writing soul mates.

Hubby: Where’s she from?

Me: *waving my hand* Over there somewhere?

Hubby: Over there? Where’s that?

Me: In the world, somewhere. I love her. Like not, fall down in the mud and lose our clothes love or anything. She just gets me.

Hubby:

Me:

Hubby:

Me: What?

Hubby: Dinosaur sex. Strange women from the internet. Walking vegetables. If it leads to us getting millions of dollars, go for it, just don’t tell anyone about it.

Me: Oh, I already posted it on Facebook.

Hubby:

Me:

Hubby: You didn’t mention my name, did you?

Me: I said it was all your idea.

Hubby:

Me:

Hubby: I can’t even…I’m going out into the shop. I have to fix the harbinger on my chainsaw.

Me: Okay. I have a LOT of research to do. Lisa’s going to help me.

Hubby: *door slams behind him*

Me: Oh my god! The Creamy Astronaut! There’s astronaut porn.

Busy World of Death

So, here I am, done all the minutiae of life. You know what I’m talking about: laundry, bed making, floor sweeping and pulling ticks off the dog. Or at least I’m done what I wanted to accomplish before I sat down to write a few words. Things are going good, the computer fired up just fine, the internet is working and I have a hot cup of tea with which to restore myself in between: gahs! and, for fuck sakes, she would never say that!

Then the hubby walks in the door…

Him: Hey, you busy?

Me: Yup.

Him: Wha cha doin’?

Me: Writing.

Him:

Me: Tap, tap, tap, tap.

Him: Seeing as you aren’t busy, can you come give me a hand?

Me: *takes two deep breaths* I am busy. See—look—tap, tap, tap.

Him: You’ve got like, fifteen tabs open on your computer, looks more like you’re surfing than writing.

Me: I’m doing research…

Him: *snort* You have Facebook open, and recipes, poultry feed and banking stuff. How’s that writing?

Me: I have Facebook open because I was having a hard time figuring out if I should use i.e. or e.g. and wanted to ask writer-type friends if they knew, I have recipes open because I’m trying to find a dessert that will hide the flavour of some household poisons, then I found out that they put arsenic into chicken feed to make them grow bigger and thought I could use that instead, and I also need to find out how someone could break into a safe built in 1973. It’s all for my story.

Him: 1973? Why 1973?

Me: My protagonist’s grandmother built the safe in 1973. I’m having a hard time finding any information…

Him: What’s a protag-nist?

Me: Protagonist. The main character of my story.

Him: (Pause) So, seeing as you aren’t busy, can you come and help me in the garage. It won’t take long. Five—six hours at the most. I’m trying to build a replica of the flyer the Wright brother’s used for their first flight.

Me:

Him:

Me:

Him: So, is that a yes?

Me:

Him: Why are you grabbing that knife?

A Writer in Editor’s clothing

Raise your hands if sometimes you forget your editor’s hat on when you are trying to write a first draft, so you do this instead.

Type, type, type, type, type, type…Oh this is the best stuff I’ve ever written…type, type, type, type…

Suddenly, the door crashed open and a wild-eyed man lunged into the room.

Oh yeah. I’m awesome.

Type, type, type, type, type….

Wait, what did I just type? Suddenly, the door crashed open and a wild-eyed man lunged into the room. What the ever loving fuck?

Delete, delete, delete…edit, edit, edit. Suddenly, the door crashed open and a tall grim faced man lunged into the room. Okay, much better.

Type, type, type, type, type, type…Wait, what did I change that last bit to? Suddenly, the door crashed open and a… Holy hell!

Delete, delete, delete…edit. The door splintered off its hinges as a tall grim faced man lunged into the room. Much better.

Type, type, type, type, type…Did the door open, or bang open? The door splintered off its hinges as a tall grim faced man lunged into the room. For fuck sakes. Really?

Delete, delete, delete…edit. The door splintered. Shards of jagged wood sprinkled across the room. A grim-faced man stood in the opening, his meaty hands, curled into fists.

Seriously? Sprinkled? Like glitter. You’re an idiot. <Checks thesaurus: Scattered, dotted, strewn, showered, peppered…> Hmmm, I do like me some peppered. The door splintered. Shards of jagged wood peppered the room. A grim-faced man stood in the opening, his meaty hands tearing the door from its hinges. Now that’s some good writing. Call me John Steinbeck.

Type, type, type, type, pause…Wait, what was… NO! Stop it! Just keep typing. You can do this. But I hate meaty hands…wahhhhhh!